Ostraconophobia is the fear of shellfish. This is a very uncommon fear, and is seen in less than thirty three percent of the population. This phobia may develop due to allergies, or due to food poisoning. This causes its sufferers to avoid restaurants or public dinners where the protein may appear. Shellfish is often used as an example of a foodstuff that causes frequent bouts of severe food poisoning. The freshness of shellfish can affect its healthiness for human beings. When shellfish is old or otherwise spoiled, its effects can be severe and even deadly.
Some people are deeply afraid of food poisoning, others of breaking religious dietary restrictions. In some cases, the fear is of the texture or taste rather than the food itself. People who are allergic to shellfish often exhibit strong fears when confronted with foods that may contain shellfish, but as these fears are tied to a physical condition, they are not considered phobias. However, some people are afraid of developing an allergic reaction to shellfish, even if they have never previously had such an allergy.
The symptoms of fear of shellfish can include nausea, anxiety, repulsion, and agitation. Avoidance of restaurants and shops offering shellfish is common in sufferers of this phobia.
Milder cases of shellfish phobia can often be overcome simply through progressive exposure. Try bites of shellfish off a loved one’s plate or pick up a shrimp or two when filling your plate at a buffet. Allow yourself plenty of time to adapt and overcome any taste or texture issues.